Whether because more people are looking to get outdoors with family or friends, or travel restrictions have required them to keep their vacations closer to home, powersports sales have been enjoying a serious surge this year. The Motorcycle Industry Council reports that retail powersports sales are at a three-year high.
But as a growing number of people hop on the adventure bike that’s been collecting dust in their garage, or ride away from the dealership on a brand new dual-purpose bike, the fact they are out of practice or don’t have a lot of experience with the bike can lead them to shy away from truly tapping into the potential “adventure” of their rides.
“A lot of the riders, they end up buying an adventure bike, and the clothing, the panniers and the gear that goes with it, but then they don't necessarily have the confidence to go out and actually experience what adventure riding really is,” says Dave Millier, owner of Canada Rides, which offers training courses for adventure riders. “And so they stay close to home or they end up riding the machine to Starbucks.” Now, thanks to Millier, riders have another option.
Let Canada Rides be your guide
Millier says this lack of confidence often comes from simple lack of experience, and that just one substantial ride that takes a newbie out of their comfort zone can give newbies all the assurance they need to take their riding to the next level. To that end, Canada Rides which is based in Barrie, Ontario, recently introduced an Adventure Tour package, aimed at facilitating multi-day rides through Northern Ontario for individuals or groups, providing them with the guidance to ensure a challenging, but fun experience.
“We provide a guided experience, plan the route and find the locations to stay at the end of each day,” says Millier. “It gives people the confidence to say ‘If I go out on this trail, even if I’ve never been there before, there’s somebody who has and who knows the route, which are the easy and the hard sections.’ Really, we’re just trying to get people out to experience what Northern Ontario offers.”
An 8-day guided adventure awaits
One of their most popular offerings is the Mooseback Trail Ride, an eight-day outing that takes riders from Barrie through Sudbury to the trails of Halfway Haven and on to Hearst, along logging roads, gravel trails, and sections of off-roading, with stops at natural waterfalls and refreshing lakes. From there, the route passes through Kapuskasing then heading down to the stunning scenery of Ritchie Falls and Manitoulin Island and Tobermory before returning back to home base. Each day averages 300-400kms with overnights at motels or private lodgings that ensure plenty of comfort after the long day of riding (no camping for these treks). Those who join will even come home with a “Canada Rides Mooseback” t-shirt souvenir.
Millier started Canada Rides about seven years ago. An avid rider, he had been involved in the local riding clubs for years before moving up to the role of president of the Ontario Federation of Trail Riders, which he ran for about six years before moving on to the national organization Motorcyclist Confederation of Canada. Throughout this decade and a half of helping spread the world about riding and “trying to get more bums in seats” he realized that while there might be a lot of enthusiasm among new riders, many did not have the tools or guidance needed to stick with it.
Canada Rides focuses on doing just that, providing safety lessons, certification programs and training for dirt bikes, ATVs, side-by-sides and adventure bikes. From delivering these training programs, and after some of his own adventure ride experiences, Millier launched the online fitness organization, FitRiders, to help riders develop the strength and endurance needed for longer rides.
In addition to off-road training, Canada Rides has also expanded to offer corporate events and outings.
“I’ve been a business guy my whole career so I’m always looking for things we can do that are staff-related or where we can take people out to do team-building exercises,” says Millier.
But one offering the company had not yet begun to market were adventure tours. That changed late last year when Millier finalized several trail itineraries and began to actively promote them. The rides generally vary from eight to 10 days, though they have also offered four-day experiences, as well.
“As we go further north, we have the benefit of being able to use a lot more Crown land, which means a lot more options that open up for us to explore,” says Millier. “The idea is to gauge the skill level of the riders, where we might say ‘this group does not have the comfort to do a more challenging section, so let’s take the easier route tomorrow.’ It’s giving them a curated experience, a fun and safe experience.”
Stress-free, safe, and ready to roll
But it’s also about pushing riders outside their comfort zone, in most cases riding farther and in more remote parts of the province than they would go on their own. Canada Rides guides groups of riders throughout the trip, ensuring routes have sufficient rest stops for gas and food, conduct real-time communication with group members using headsets, provide satellite tracking for the group (with a link that can be shared with friends and family back home), and providing tips before the ride on what to pack. Guides also come equipped with tools for handling trail-side repairs or first aid if need be.
Millier emphasizes that while some might be able to afford to buy the bikes, they don’t necessarily have the time or knowledge to manage all these plans. Canada Rides focuses on doing just that, providing safety lessons, certification programs and training for dirt bikes, ATVs, side-by-sides, and adventure bikes. From delivering these training programs, and after some of his own adventure ride experiences, Millier launched the online fitness organization, FitRiders, to help riders develop the strength and endurance needed for longer rides joining a Canada Rides tour, travelers can focus on the important stuff: Enjoying the scenery, wildlife and good times with friends.
“On the last trip, we saw eight bear, moose, a lynx, lots of foxes and of course rabbits and grouse on trail,” says Millier. “It’s unexpected some of the beauty that’s up there as you’re riding along—the panoramas, the views, the landscapes. It’s absolutely stunning, and you can ride for hours and see no civilization at all.”
Whatever sort of adventure you choose, a ride with Canada Rides is one you won't soon forget.